Trade war, day 83: Trump accuses China of election interference


If you have not been following our regular China-U.S. trade war updates and need a quick review of the current issues in China-U.S. relations, the U.S. Congressional Research Service has a handy two-page explainer.

Many major issues in China-U.S. relations are connected to one another, but never have they been more often spoken of in the same breath as during the Trump era. President Trump has repeatedly connected the North Korea crisis with trade, something his predecessors have avoided doing, for example.

Today, Trump leveled another charge against China, also connecting it with trade. CNN reports:

  • “China has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election coming up in November against my administration,” Trump said to the UN Security Council, without providing evidence.
  • “They do not want me or us to win because I am the first president ever to challenge China on trade,” Trump then added.
  • A couple of hours later, Trump tweeted: “China is actually placing propaganda ads in the Des Moines Register and other papers, made to look like news. That’s because we are beating them on Trade, opening markets, and the farmers will make a fortune when this is over!”
  • The newspaper ad placement is real, but not unprecedented outside of Iowa: China Daily, a state media outlet, has been paying to insert pages into the Washington Post for many years, for example.
  • While Trump may be the only official publicly accusing China of election “interference,” many others in Washington are also concerned about the influence of Chinese state media: Xinhua and CGTN were recently told by the Justice Department to register as foreign agents (China Daily has already registered).
  • The U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats today also warned of China “trying to exploit any divisions between federal and local levels on policy,” though he did not go into details, and did not describe it as election interference or connect it to trade.

Other news on the trade war and U.S.-China relations:

Previously in SupChina’s trade war coverage:

Trade war, day 82: China establishes hard Party line opposing U.S. tariffs and ‘trade bullyism’